Developer: 2K Sports
Publisher: 2K Games
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Cool autumnal evenings, the sound of the rubber soles of sneakers squeaking across the hardwood, and the smooth sound of a ball going through the nylon. That’s right NBA fans; basketball has come back for another season. The return of the NBA season means the launch of this year’s basketball sim by 2K Sports, NBA 2K13. What new features will be packed into this year’s game? Will those features help NBA 2K13 become a slam dunk, or should this game warm the benches? Lace up your sneakers; it’s time for the review.
Starting off, veteran gamers of the NBA 2K series will notice the lack of any major innovation with this year’s edition. However, when you look at what the 2K series has done, especially in the past few years, there isn’t much else to innovate. Rather than adding new ideas to the franchise, the developers took this year to fine tune the game, while adding a few surprises – after all, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Many of the standard modes have been carried over to NBA 2K13, including the “Franchise” and “Create a Legend” modes; however, they have gotten rid of the “NBA Greatest” mode. This year’s edition isn’t so much about the legends that made the game great, but rather about giving you, the player, a bigger spotlight.
As mentioned, the developers took the time to fine tune elements of the game, as is the case for the career mode, called “My Player”. This mode is now even deeper than in years past and has even mixed in elements of RPGs. Special boosts to skills can be purchased with the games virtual currency. Everything, from the animations used for shooting to pre-game warm-ups, can be chosen by the player; even the attire for your players, both in-game and post-game, can be changed, and street games give the player a lot more control than in years past.
Once the creating is done, you will play in the rookie game, have a one-on-one interview with a few General Managers, and get drafted based on your performance. During the course of the season, the performance of the player will dictate even more that happens off the court. Become a good enough player in the game, and players can meet up with the team’s general manager to suggest the release of their coach. There is also a social media function, in which the created player gains popularity with fans and notoriety from other players around the league. As more time goes on, players can negotiate contracts, sign endorsement deals with shoe companies, and even create their own shoe in the game (and have it shipped to them in real life!).
The other major addition to the game is the “My Team” mode. In this mode, players are given a set of random, lower tier players and must earn the virtual currency to upgrade to better players, buy boosts, arenas, uniforms and things of that nature. The virtual currency in the game is awarded by playing any mode of the game itself, including playing online. While playing online, the game does not slow down from the normal paced professional game to the fast paced pick-up games.
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The control scheme has been given some fine tuning for NBA 2K13. In previous editions, the right analog stick was used just for shooting. This year, the right analog stick is used to make offensive moves while dribbling, as well as to give more control to the shooting motions. Shooting now involves holding down the left trigger while using the right analog stick. While controls are fluid and responsive, even veterans of the series will need to take some time to learn the new shooting mechanic. The only notice given to the gameplay change mechanic is a loading screen, telling players about the right analog stick and which buttons to press to shoot the ball.
Sweat beads forming, jerseys swinging with a player’s motion, and even the motions from the all the major current stars and legends help in the effort to make NBA 2K13 as close to an actual television presentation as possible. To help with the effort, Kevin Harlan, Steve Kerr, and Clark Kellogg call the game seamlessly, keeping up with all the action on the court. Also, hip-hop fans will be happy to know Jay-Z is not only a producer for the game, but also helped with putting together the soundtrack. However, even those not as fond of the hip-hop genre can find a few tracks that suit their musical palates.
NBA 2K13 is a fine game, but isn’t without its faults. The game does very little to actually teach players how to play, instead opting to just throw them into the fire. Novices without an understanding of how the game of professional basketball is played may be overwhelmed at first. With enough time put into the game, though, players will begin to understand the roles given to each position, and how to become an effective basketball team.
All in all, the lack of any major innovation and the initial overwhelming depth in NBA 2K13 holds the game back; however, that doesn’t mean a fan should pass up on this title. 2K Sports has done a great job proving why they have been the top dog when it comes to basketball sims. Once learned, the gameplay becomes worth the price of admission and the time put into learning the game itself. Those that truly love the game of basketball will not be disappointed.
Final Verdict: NBA 2K13 gets 8 pairs of the new Sanchez’s out of 10
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of NBA 2K13 by 2K Sports, distributed by 2K Games.